Hypertufa Recipe Without The Peat Moss

What Is A Good Substitution For Peat Moss?
It Is An Environmental “No-No” In The UK

I received an email from Mike who asked:

I am very interested in your excellent web site and in particular hypertufa recipes and projects.

I am based in the UK and peat is a big “no-no” environmentally. Can you recommend a peat substitute for hypertufa recipes? What is the function of peat in hypertufa? Sorry to bombard you with queries.

Best wishes. Mike

My reply:
Hi Mike:
Thank you for contacting me.

Interesting, I did not know peat moss is a complete “no-no” in the UK! (How come, if I may ask? There is so much of it in the world it certainly is a “renewable” plant/product, and I have read that Canada, for instance, does practice controlled harvesting.)

Anyway, you can use coir. I am not personally acquainted with using it, but I am aware some folks do use it as an acceptable substitute for the peat moss. I do have detailed information about a coir based hyperturfa recipe on my website (thanks to your inquiry.)

But, here is the basic recipe. As is most often the case with hypertufa recipes, you may need to adjust a ratio of one of the ingredients (normally it’s the amount of water used or not used). Try a smaller project before you tackle a huge project! 😉

Basic Hypertufa Recipe Using Coir In Place Of Peat Moss
3 parts coir (coconut fiber)
2 parts Portland Cement type I-II
3 parts perlite
(water as needed for proper consistency)

To read all the information, please go to: Hypertufa Recipe using Coir.

About the purpose of the peat in hypertufa: over time, if left out in the elements (your garden), the peat will decompose, leaving pits and crevices. This replicates real Tufa rock, which is the whole idea of folks working with hypertufa. I will assume the coir will decompose, but maybe will take a little longer to do so??

I do hope this info helps.


Mike emailed me back and said:

Thank you Claudia for all the information.

There’s still plenty of peat around in all purpose compost here and you can still get peat but it’s known as being an unsustainable resource and all the big retailers have policies to reduce and eradicate it over the next few years.


  1. Heartburn Home Remedy says:

    I follow your posts for quite a long time and must tell you that your posts are always valuable to readers.

  2. Hi, I was just wondering if you knew whether Mike had tried the Coir recipe and how it turned out? I have only just discovered hypertufa and since I am also in the UK I am looking for a sustainable alternative to peat moss before I start my first project. Can you please tell me if the coir needs to be mulched or broken into smaller pieces before use? Also I was wondering if you thought that straw mulch would have the same effect? Or if you can think of anything else that would decompose quicker.
    Many thanks

  3. Hi Trissy:

    No, I don’t know about Mike’s outcome. But to answer your questions, I’d suggest that shorter strands and/or pieces of coir will work better than long strands. Think about it – trying to incorporate long strands of coir and not have glops of it here and there throughout your object isn’t the best idea. Smaller/shorter pieces will of course stir in and mix nicely with the rest of the ingredients.

    As far as other materials you might try … I’d not try straw. Of course I’ve never tried it myself, but I don’t think it’s the right thing to use. Never heard of anyone raving about what a great replacement for peat moss it is nor that someone had used it and was wanting to share that with everyone else. Same as shredded paper pieces – don’t use those. Some folks have used sawdust (make sure it’s from untreated lumber!), I’ve never done that either … so you might want to make a small experimental project to see how it goes.

    I’d stick to the coir. There’s more postings around the ‘net on crafters being successful when using it.

    Check out all the ‘tufa info on my main website if you’ve not done so already: “Hypertufa What?” introduction page with links to the other related hypertufa articles.

    Have fun!

  4. alexandra abraham says:

    Hello Claudia, and I apologise for the late post; I know this thread is several years old now, but you might like to read this page (I too am in the UK);

    This explains the no-no aspect of peat moss in the UK… It also gives substitute materials.
    Hope it helps.
    I’m looking forward to making some hypertufa troughs myself, so I needed also, to see about alternatives.

  5. Natasha Boultwood says:

    I am based in the UK and am struggling to find portland cement near where I live. Is there a different type of cement that can be used. I’ve found one called high performance cement which sounded good. Thanks

  6. Claudia Brownlie says:

    Hi Natasha: I don’t live in the UK, so cannot help you find sources for portland cement. All I can suggest is to do an online search – try “other names for portland cement in UK” and other queries. Contact a local cement/concrete company and ask them what they consider portland cement. I’ll bet local professionals and/or calling company help lines that manufacture cement products will ultimately steer you in the right direction. Otherwise…you could buy a small bag of the “high performance” product you spoke of and try making a small test project. Good luck! 🙂

  7. Maria Lucia L Gomez-Greenberg says:

    Great articles and comments! Thank you all! I will be making my first hypertufa today and will use coir instead of peat moss because it is better for the environment. ;–)

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